The Kwara State Government has said the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has returned all the pensions he collected so far as a former two-term governor of the state.
In a surprising twist, however, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Senate President, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, said the claim emanated from the Kwara State Government and he neither confirmed nor denied it.
The Secretary to the Kwara State Government, Alhaji Isiaka Gold, in a statement on Wednesday said the attention of the state government had been drawn to issues surrounding the payment of pensions to former governors of the state, especially Saraki.
The SSG said Saraki, as a two-term governor of the state, was entitled to pensions as stipulated by the third schedule, Paragraph D (i) of the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law, No. 12 of 2010 of Kwara State.
He added that the said pensions had been duly remitted to his (Saraki’s) account, like other former governors, since he left office.
He, however, said that when, via a letter dated August 20, 2015 addressed to the state government, Saraki requested that the payment of pensions to his account be stopped and the amount already credited to the account be refunded to the (Kwara State) Government, the state government promptly complied.
Gold said, “The (Kwara State) Government not only stopped the payment of the said pension, the amount already paid into Saraki’s account since he left office was deducted from the money owed to him as well as his other outstanding lawful entitlements.
“In view of the foregoing, it should be noted that neither the Kwara State Government, nor Saraki, violated the state pension law or any other law for that matter.
“The State Pension Law empowers the state government to pay pension to former governors of the state.
“The Kwara State Government will want to reiterate the fact that it was Dr. Saraki who, of his own volition, considered the morality of the situation in which the pension would put him since he is still a serving Senator and chose to abandon his legal rights.
“We believe he should be commended for the decision.”
Gold added, “It is the hope of the Kwara State Government that this clarification will end all the controversy about this issue.”